We’re approaching the time of year when we can expect to see 2018 theatrical releases show up on streaming services more regularly. On May 26 of last year, Netflix added Raees, and Amazon’s Heera (R.I.P.) added Commando 2. Two more 2017 titles showed up in June before things really picked up in July. If there’s a movie you missed seeing in the theater earlier this year, you may not have to wait much longer before you can watch it from the comfort of home.
For everything else new on Amazon Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.
Writer-director Anand Tiwari’s debut feature film Love Per Square Foot shows a lot of promise. Drawing from his own acting experience, Tiwari coaxes charming performances from his talented cast.
Two young strangers in Mumbai long for homes of their own. IT guy Sanjay (Vicky Kaushal) is tired of living with his fussy parents, Lata (Supriya Pathak) and Bhaskar (Raghuvir Yadav). Loan officer Karina (Angira Dhar) wants financial independence, a feat her mother Blossom (Ratna Pathak Shah) never quite achieved.
Sanjay is being strung along by his sexy boss, Rashi (Alankrita Sahai), and Karina is dating Sam (Kunaal Roy Kapur), a nice guy she likes but doesn’t love. When Sanjay and Karina hit it off at a mutual friend’s wedding, they realize that they can’t achieve their dreams if they stay with their current partners.
In order to take advantage of a government-sponsored housing program for newlyweds, Sanjay and Karina decide to apply together. They only have to get married if they win an apartment via a lottery draw, and even then, their arrangement is based on business rather than affection. They’ll split everything 50-50, from the costs of owning the apartment right down to household chores. That they start to fall in love with each other during the process is just a bonus.
The story takes its time establishing the relationship between Sanjay and Karina, which is great because Kaushal and Dhar are adorable together. Fresh off of his chilling turn as a crooked cop in Raman Raghav 2.0, Kaushal transitions seamlessly into an ideal romantic leading man. Dhar is effortlessly likeable and cute in her first film role.
Tiwari’s storytelling style is concise, with characters resolving problems that would normally stretch over several scenes with just a sentence or two. It’s refreshing, but it also creates the need to continually manufacture new conflicts in order to keep the story going. Problems aren’t born out of well-integrated subplots but rather spontaneously generate, and the story drags.
The two ex-lovers are one well Tiwari returns to, with Rashi’s demands on Sanjay’s attention becoming increasingly outlandish and less believable. As a character, Rashi is one-note, which is too bad because Sahai shows some charisma in her first film role. Kapur’s Sam has fewer scenes, but the actor makes the most of them.
Tiwari relies even more heavily on the main characters’ parents to complicate matters, chiefly on the grounds of religious objections to the union. Sanjay is Hindu and Karina is Christian, though neither seems especially devout. The sudden parental religious objections feel obligatory — as though one can’t make a Bollywood romantic comedy without them — and they don’t easily fit with the central modern love story. Despite having wonderful actors in the roles, all of the parents are unfunny caricatures.
The rookie writer-director must perfect his story crafting, but overall, Love Per Square Foot is a fine debut — not just for Anand Tiwari but for Angira Dhar as well.
I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a totally exciting new addition. The romantic comedy Love Per Square Foot made its worldwide debut today — on Netflix! Producer Ronnie Screwvala opted to bypass theaters and release the film on the digital platform instead, a move he says acknowledges the way people choose to watch movies and also gives filmmakers the freedom to tell stories that might not otherwise support the costs of a traditional theatrical release. Love Per Square Foot stars Vicky Kaushal and debutant Angira Dhar as a pair of cash-strapped Mumbai house hunters. Click here to watch it on Netflix.
I also added a bunch of titles to my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime. I had time to kill yesterday, hiding out in my basement with my laptop while workers replaced our windows (in February, in Chicago = bad idea), so I did some more digging through Amazon’s catalog. In addition to the interesting looking documentary My Name Is Salt, I found another twenty Indian and Desi movies available for streaming with Prime: